ASUNCION – Paraguayan presidential hopeful Sen. Mario Abdo Benitez hailed on Thursday a key endorsement from an influential lawmaker and predicted he would secure the ruling Colorado Party’s nomination in a landslide.
Abdo Benitez, who is battling former Finance Minister Santiago Peña for the nomination, said in a press conference that the endorsement of Oscar Tuma means thousands of additional votes for his Colorado Añetete (Authentic Colorado) faction.
“We want to be a movement that generates a spirit of reconciliation within the Colorado Party. Let’s hope that spirit will now be reflected in this electoral process,” Abdo Benitez said.
The senator predicted he would score an overwhelming victory in the Colorado Party’s Dec. 17 primary over Peña, who is backed by Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and his Honor Colorado movement.
Abdo Benitez’s running mate is lawmaker Hugo Velazquez, while Peña’s is Luis Gneiting, a former governor of the southern province of Itapua.
The Colorado Party has long dominated Paraguayan politics.
Although its defeat in presidential elections in April 2008 ended its 61-year reign, the party regained the presidency when Cartes won the 2013 presidential election.
Members of the main opposition Authentic Radical Liberal Party will choose between Efrain Alegre and Carlos Mateo Balmelli on Dec. 17, while dozens of other parties also will hold their primaries that same day.
Paraguay’s presidential election will be held in April 2018.